Ask Katie: Deadlifting and Low Back Pain


I have a question for you and/or your blog if you think it’s helpful.

I try to love deadlifts, and I try to tell myself if I do them more maybe I will love them. I almost loved them- ish, when I was on a 4 month strength cycle, but that was last year.

What I hate about deadlifts is that they leave my lower back super tender and sore for DAYS.  That is a scary feeling going back to the barbell even with moderate to heavy weight… that soreness feels like weakness, weakness compromises good position and midline stability which in turn is high risk for injury and real setbacks.

(while my back is strong now, I have had earlier injuries with pulled hamstrings and lower back strains from 15 years ago, that flare up from time to time.)

is this normal? what have you found helps?  I’m thinking just do more deadlifts, reverse hypers, and yes… abs to give extra guard to the midline strength and balance and eventually it will go away?

 While I don’t deadlift frequently these days, I do spend a lot of time OLY lifting, which includes pulling from the ground. but I’m almost never pulling from the ground for Olympic lifts the weight I would pull for a deadlift. 

Any advice?

Thanks so much! 

your fan, 



Hey Kathy, thanks for your email.  It sounds like you already have a lot of the important pieces of deadlifting success outlined here.

Like you mentioned, I think accessory work like abs and reverse hypers are great for keeping the midline strong.  But just as you said, doing more deadlifts is the best way to fix any issues you have with the movement, and will also greatly improve that core strength.  

I realize you may be hesitant to pile on more deadlifts since you have been experiencing pain from them.  I know from my own experience with chronic lower back soreness after deadlifting that my position and mechanics were the main cause for the discomfort.  I had been deadlifting heavy since high school and had always just dealt with being sore for days after.  For me, all it took was lowering my hips a bit in the set-up and getting more of my weight behind the bar.

By lowering my hips I was able to use my legs more in the initial pull from the ground.  While my hamstrings were loaded, my hips were always so high that I didn’t get much help from my quads so my lower back ended up having to do more of the work.  Once I turned the initial pull into more of a leg press action, driving my chest up simultaneously with my hips I no longer had any lingering back soreness after deadlifting.

I also learned how to pull myself into position and get more of my bodyweight behind the bar before starting the pull.  This allowed me to use my bodyweight as a crane to pull the weight up and I also found it much easier to maintain tension through my abs, erectors and lats.  Everything was engaged before I even started to pull so I was able to transmit more force into making the bar move.

Good luck to you and I hope you can begin to deadlift (low-back)pain-free!  


The Katie Hogan Seminar For People Who Can’t Lift Good And Want To Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too!

June 22 & 23, 9am-6pm, Crossfit Annandale

At The Katie Hogan Seminar For People Who Can’t Lift Good and Want to Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too, I’m interested in helping athletes in all aspects of their training. I currently train about a dozen athletes via online distance coaching and I find myself answering email upon email each month from strangers with questions about their training. By creating this seminar I hope to reach more people and help others be better.

What we will do: For those wondering, the basic breakdown is a combination of lecture and Q&A combined with practical sessions of warm-up, lifting session, metcon workout, and cool down spaced throughout the day.

Why it will be awesome: Each participant will have hours of hands-on coaching and will learn not only how to move better, but also how to structure their training to see the results they want.

*warm-ups: what’s the real goal and how to structure it around your workout

*lifting: breakdown of technique and how to have a productive strength day no matter what

*training: how to create a workout and how to effectively use Buy-Ins and Cash-Outs

*programming: learn to structure workouts over time so as to reach short and long term goals of the program


Katie will teach you to lift weights good!

Many athletes have discovered that being strong is an area of weakness for them. No matter what their goals are, being stronger seems to always be an underlying theme when people seek me out for training advice.

Technique and program design are a huge part of the Katie Hogan Seminar. Athletes will lift weights, be coached on how to get out of bad positions, and learn how to construct a strength program for their athletes.


Katie will give you tools to help others lift weights good!

We will break down how to design a day of training and how to fit that in to a week of programming. There are countless ways to design a program; I will give you some tools I have found useful for myself and with my athletes.


Katie will discuss other fitnessy things you can do good!

In addition to being stronger, athletes are seeking a comprehensive program that includes daily metabolic conditioning, skillwork, recovery, and nutrition.

We will also hit a workout and a dose of skillwork to round out the day. With more hands-on coaching and cuing, athletes will improve their movements and take home new drills to train others.

If you’re interested please contact me at